Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Giants can prove they're up to the Challenge in quarter-final: Keefe

 

By Stuart McKinley

Adam Keefe is happy that the Belfast Giants' Challenge Cup quarter-final battle with the Fife Flyers has come down to a winner-takes-all battle in Belfast tonight.

He is, however, demanding that his players win the game and set up a semi-final clash with the Nottingham Panthers.

Although the Giants led the Fife Flyers 3-1 after 20 minutes of the first leg, the teams head into the return game level at 3-3, but Keefe doesn't see that as an opportunity missed, particularity with home advantage this evening.

"Obviously we would like to be going into the second leg with a lead, and we were up 3-1 in the first game, but all things considered - we had a long travel day, Fife are a strong team at home and we won in Nottingham the next night so it was a good weekend - coming out even wasn't a bad result," said Keefe.

"If you can't win at home then you don't deserve to get to a semi-final, but I am confident that if our team show up and play the way we can play we'll come out on top, and that's the message I'll be giving to the players."

The Giants haven't lifted silverware since the record-breaking league success of 2014, when the title was secured by mid-February.

Keefe's remit when he was appointed as successor to Derrick Walser last summer was to end the longest trophy drought in the club's history, but rather than feel the weight of that expectation, the man who captained the team to the Monteith Bowl four years ago is embracing the situation as he tries to take a step closer to a first final since the same season, which was lost to Nottingham on penalties.

"There is always expectation here in Belfast and I think I realise that as much as anyone else," said Keefe.

"I'm not sure there was a demand on me to deliver trophies in my first year, but the team have come together and we are in a good position now to shoot for some silverware.

"I think that five-on-five we are good as any team around, if not better, and we have to try to stay out of the penalty box to give ourselves the best chance possible."

The Giants will be without Sébastien Sylvestre tonight as he serves the second game of a two-match suspension handed out following last Friday's ill-tempered defeat by the Sheffield Steelers.

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